Getting ready for the New Year!

Well, you blinked and it's nearly 2011! Hard to believe. So here is my suggestion for planning your marketing for the coming year. Ask yourself the following questions.

1) What is your annual marketing budget? Include graphics, printing, advertising, photography, direct mail, promotions, trade shows, consultant's fees, etc. As a rule of thumb, consider putting 3 - 7% of gross sales into this budget for 2011. And yes, you should budget this and set aside the money and not do it on the fly, you are more likely to make a commitment and stick with it if you set this money aside now.

2) Who is your target audience? And don't say "everyone." It is much harder and much more expensive to target "everyone." Finetune your target, 'single women in a specific age range and income level in the Westchester area' will help you identify how to reach those people much eaiser than just saying everyone. And you may have secondary audiences as well, but who is your "best customer?" Identify that group of people and then you can determine how to best reach them.

3) This will sound silly, but what is your business description? If you own a retail store, don't just identify yourself as "a gift shop." Be more specific and interesting, what are you really selling, gifts or status symbols or economical choices for the budget conscious consumer, etc. What do you really sell? Understanding that point and conveying it succinctly will help you to refine your sales message and better target your audience.

4) What are you quantifiable goals for 2011? Increase sales... by how much? Resell to past customers? What are reselling? Upselling to existing customers? How much do you want to sell? Are you planning to increase overall gross sales by 20% or perhaps just increase gross profits by 15% which would make for a different plan that just increasing gross sales....? If you own a service business, perhaps you goal is to "add 3 more clients per month in a target sales range of $1,500 - $2,000 per month." Be very specific, that will help you quantify success and set a path to get there.

5) How are you going to best convey your message to the best audience? Newspaper ads? On-line marketing? Pay per click? Twittter? Direct mail? Blogging? All will gain you visiblity, but not all will work optimally. Take a look at what you have done in the past and determine if it worked, why it did or didn't work and how you can adjust it going forward. What new tools haven't you tried? Who can you ask about new tools and what will work for you? Don't discount older methods of marketing and don't just on newer ones just because they are trendy. Determine how they each will work for you particular business and then go about implmenting them.

And before I forget, be sure to prepare a calendar of activities so that you know not only when you will do something, but when you will need to get it ready so you don't miss deadlines, for example if you know that advertising in a special issue of Westchester Magazine is something you want to do, you need to plan that out 3 months in advance!

Preparing this information now will help you be organized for January so you can get moving quickly in the new year and start seeing success sooner rather than later!

Happy New Year


What's your fall plan?

Okay, in case you didn't notice, it's the end of August. Maybe you are on the beach or enjoying some downtime and staying away from the computer for a change. That's great, everyone needs to take some time away and remember why we all work so hard in the first place. But fall is around the corner and it's time to determine what you need to do to make the final third of 2010 successful.

Consider the following: 

1) Is your business tied to the holidays in anyway? Now is the time to organize, plan and get into motion any plan you have for increasing holiday sales and mrketing to your target audience. November and December issues of magazines are already in the works and looking for great new products to highlight.

2) If your business dies off during the holidays then you really need to get moving to take advantage of September and October!

3) Have you taken full advantage of social media this year? Have you created a Twitter account? Have you enhanced your LinkedIn profile? How is your Facebook page? Have you updated your blog? While none of these will dramatically increase sales by itself, they are all necessary in today's environment and should all be part of a marketing plan.

4) How about on-line advertising? There are great deals out there now on online ads, banners, etc. That entire marketing channel has changed dramatically over the years and the good news is you can have complete control over what you implement and understanding what works thanks to Google analytics. But you have to take advantage of it and have it installed. Then you will know what's working and what isn't and where your money is best spent.

5) What about your traditional PR? Are you writing articles? Are you pursuing speaking engagements? Are your products worthy of a write-up in the local daily or weekly? How about national coverage? While daily papers are suffering, the magazine industry is alive and kicking. They are always looking for things to publish.

Now is the time to get started, don't miss out on a great fall. And of course if you need help with any of this, we're here. I might even cut you a great deal if you mention my blog! Get moving!